As a general rule, police officers have the same ability to defend themselves that any other citizen in New York or elsewhere does. However, there are limits as to when they can use force to protect themselves or to apprehend individuals suspected of committing a crime. According to a Supreme Court ruling, force may be used if an individual is attempting to flee from an officer. Furthermore, it may be used if there is evidence that a person may try to hurt or kill others.

Police departments attempt to resolve situations using verbal requests or commands whenever possible. Officers typically determine what type of force that they will use based on the perceived threat posed by whoever they are trying to take into custody. If verbal commands are not sufficient to apprehend an individual, authorities might use chemical spray or physical force to do so.

Typically, lethal force is reserved for situations involving those who cannot be safely restrained or subdued in any other manner. Annually, the Justice Department receives roughly 12,000 police brutality or abuse complaints. However, there are typically fewer than 50 convictions per year based on those complaints. This is partially because there is no set definition as to what constitutes excessive force, and there is also disagreement as to who is best suited to come up with such a definition.

Those who are harmed by a police officer or anyone else may have grounds to pursue a personal injury case. An attorney may be able to help an injured person show that he or she was hurt because of another person’s negligent behavior. If a claim is successful, an individual may be entitled to compensation for current and future medical bills as well as for lost wages and lost future earnings.